NICE - driving innovation

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), which develops guidance on the use of new and existing treatments within the NHS, is working on a new collaborative space for research and development to help create new methods and processes for health technology assessment.

Innovative medical devices are arriving at an unprecedented pace, according to the institute, and NICE says it has a key duty to keep ahead of these developments to make sure patients gain rapid access to the cutting-edge treatments.

NICE has taken a number of measures to address this, including developing a proportionate approach to technology appraisals to increase the capacity.

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It is also, importantly, developing a new collaborative space for research and development called the Health Technology Assessment innovation Laboratory (HTA Lab).

Using collaborative and innovative approaches, the HTA Lab will enable NICE to work with its stakeholders to develop solutions to complex HTA issues. This includes disruptive new health technologies and broader methods, process and policy issues, which will help drive solutions to current and future health challenges – taking innovation from the lab and into practice.

A sandbox approach

The HTA Lab will use a ‘sandbox’ approach to developing solutions to complex HTA problems, which means options can be explored that may not fit within existing practices but that have the potential for significant benefits if adopted as standard practice.

The sandbox concept provides a safe space for businesses to push the boundaries and innovate on new products and ways of working.

NICE will apply its experience to the HTA Lab, using the sandbox as a development and testing environment that allows collaboration with stakeholders to trial new methods, processes and policies.

HTA Lab does not replace NICE’s formal arrangements for adopting new methods and processes. It offers a new way of harnessing the ideas and creativity of its stakeholder community in solving complex HTA issues.

A framework for rapid entry to managed access

The first project that the HTA Lab will undertake is developing and piloting a framework for rapid entry to managed access.

The aim is to develop efficient and timely processes prior to suitable products entering managed access arrangements, which will help provide patients with access to financially sustainable, important medicines while the evidence of their effectiveness is still emerging.

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